WeatherWatcher: Areas of smoke; Rain returns to the forecast

Friday, September 11, 2020


Smoke filtered Sun in the sky.
Smoke filtered morning sun September 6, 2017.
Photo by Carl Dinse

The forecast has some hope for us early next week with the return of clouds, cooler temperatures, and some light rain. However, we have a lot to get through before we get to Monday.

Friday through Sunday we are expecting "sunny" skies with areas of smoke. Highs near 80°F on Friday, and then down into the 70's in the weekend.

You can see in the color satellite image below a thick brown cloud cover over southwest Washington, western Oregon, and out in the Pacific Ocean west of Oregon and northern California.

I want to be clear, none of what appears to be clouds in this image over Oregon or Washington is water clouds. All of that brownish cloud cover is wildfire smoke from the massive wildfires in the Oregon Cascades, and California.

Visible color satellite image of the West Coast of North America.
Satellite image on September 10, 2020 at 5:10pm PDT.

Winds are changing as I write this and by Friday morning the winds will push a lot of that smoke in Western Oregon and off the Pacific coast right into the Puget Sound region. 

The Puget Sound Clean Air agency has issued a Wildfire smoke alert. Air quality conditions are expected to be unhealthy for sensitive groups, and possibly unhealthy for everyone. These conditions are expected to last through the weekend.

In addition to the air quality alert, the King County Fire Marshal issued a stage 2 burn ban. This burn ban prohibits all outdoor recreational fires, which includes backyard fire pits or campfires using chopped firewood or charcoal. Outdoor cooking and heating appliances are limited to approved manufactured gas and charcoal units only. 

Once we get through all of that, at this time it appears by Sunday evening the smoke will start to clear out of the region, as an approaching storm front brings a chance of rain to the region Monday morning and afternoon, with rain likely by Monday evening.

Rain is expected to continue Tuesday morning, with showers in the afternoon behind the storm front. There is a possibility of a thunderstorm or two with the showers Tuesday afternoon and evening.

Wednesday through next Friday mostly cloudy skies and the chance of showers stay with us. Temperatures reaching the low to mid 70's for a high and overnight temperatures in the 50's.

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